Saturday, October 1, 2011

Granny nanny

Should grandparents be paid for babysitting?
I have been very fortunate in the past couple of months to have my parents babysit my children for various lengths of time.
And although I’m taking full advantage of having family support it got me thinking: should grandparents be paid for their childcare services?
Grandparents across the country are saving their children millions of dollars each year by taking on childcare duties for no payment.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the most commonly used type of child care is “informal” care which refers to non-regulated care by older siblings, grandparents, other relatives or other people such as friends, neighbours, nannies or babysitters. 
Grandparents are most likely to take care of younger children aged 0-2 and 3-5 years, but it was also the most popular choice for school aged children.
However, when your own mother or mother-in-law is taking care of your child, it can raise all kinds of emotional and logistical issues, so here’s a quick guide on how to make it work.
1. You’re still the boss: It may seem strange laying down the law with your own parents, but make sure they understand and are willing to co-operate with your rules about things such as what the children eat, sleep, television, junk food, outings, routines and appropriate discipline. But be flexible as too many rules will make them feel that you don’t trust their judgment.
2. Have faith in their ability as parents (after all, they raised you). Don’t worry about the small stuff, as long as the kids are alive, safe and happy, that’s all that matters.
3. Don’t involve the children in your battles: If you have relationship issues with your parents, the last thing you should do is put your kids in the middle of a decades-old power struggle. 
4. Keep them up to date: Before leaving your children with their grandparents, make sure you keep them informed on anything that is going on that may affect your child’s mood or health. This might include sleep issues, signs of an oncoming cold, recently developed fears (such as a fear of dogs or loud noises), separation anxiety, or trouble at school or with siblings.
5. Don’t make assumptions: Grandparents have their own life too, and if you continually assume they will be available for childcare duties, they will feel like they are being exploited leading to resentment.  
If grandparents provide regular ongoing care, then they may wish to be paid for their services.
Be sure to discuss openly how much to pay, how much notice to give in the event of a cancellation, what if the child or grandparent gets sick, and who organises and pays for activities such as classes or outings.
If grandparents provide regular care for their grandchildren, they may be eligible for Government assistance (visit Centrelink for more information).
If you are fortunate to have your parents or in-laws who want to regularly take care of your children, it can be immensely beneficial for everyone.
You get comfort knowing your children are with people who love them, and the children and their grandparents will develop a loving bond, and someone else they can turn to when they need extra support.


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